(Right, no TAFE, no theatre, I'm not sick...Ok let's do this!)
Returning to Japanator on a borrowed laptop (or one filled with way too much TAFE work), I come before you with the three quarter point.
Monkey - Episodes 27-39
Season 2 begins with a "band separation" opener. Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy go their separate ways because they've finally got fed up of walking to India without some form of reward. Monkey resumes his kingdom of fruit and flowers. Sandy grovels back to heaven to try and live a philosopher's life. And Pigsy tries to get laid...ok he tricks the Chinese kingdom with the fake scrolls from last season.
But of course things go horribly wrong for some and guilt gets into others leading to the four pilgrims joining once more.
Or should I say five?
Last time I mentioned Yu-Lung, former dragon turned horse now a human voiced by a Baselonian waiter. Part of me feels like he isn't being used to his full potential. In most episodes they don't even acknowledge him. As the narrator goes "Monkey, Tripitaka and the other two..." I furiously shout at my laptop "AND YU-LUNG!".
Right from the start of this series I said the second season goes "snooker loopy". Well right here is where it starts. Episode 27's demon is a giant dinosaur. Now I'm all for all things different but this is just stupid. It feels like it was just tacted on as a plot device to get the gang together. A reset button.
This is also where I start to question the time frame of this show. Monkey uses his magic to turn his Wishing Staff into various item, most of which don't belong in the "ancient Chinese" time set that the show tells us it's in. Hoses, fine, I'll let that slide but a frigging radar?! I always assumed that since he knows magic, he'd be able to use sense where people are. Not, y'know, use a radar!
Season 2 has some good points. Certain effects are somewhat better than the last season, seeing Monkey throw his Wishing Staff through one of the demon's guts leaving a massive hole is one of my favorites. The scenarios of certain episodes were well worth my time. One in particular was episode 29 "You Win Some, You Lose Some" an episode about a gambling demon. Attracting men to his casino and when they're out of money the men hang themselves. It sounds like an interesting premise and it also explains why this particular episode got dubbed later in 2003.
Which brings me to another point. Certain episodes, for whatever reason, never got dubbed until 2003 (three years before Saiyuuki aired in Japan). In these dubs, the voice acting is kind of hit or miss but not as racially offensive. Certain voices like Pigsy's matches perfectly since there's a different body actor in season 2. The narrator however is so shocking it's depressing. Although the best by far is that gambling demon. Truth be told, I actually prefer these dubs. If you swap the narrator for the previous one I'd be in love with it.
(to prove my point about the voice acting I've prepared a little example.)
Other episodes include, forgetting themselves, becoming babies and Monkey willing to sacrifise himself for Tripitaka, somewhat unaware that he's been immortal since the first episode! Actually while we're on that note, the amount of times they forget that he's immortal and worry about his death is terribly shocking.
Another addition is that Sandy and Pigsy have full names and while I wont write them here (as my spelling is not the best) I will say it adds more flavour to an ever expanding story.
In episode 30 "Pigsy Learns A Lesson", we see a similar plot point from Saiyuuki. The "switch-a-roo-prisoner-for-24-hours-and-if-they're-not-back-by-dawn-the-main-characters-die-instead" plot. In Saiyuuki, Goku, Hakkai and Hoshi remained prisoners in Monkey its just Trippitaka, showing once again what a stubborn stupid moronic fool he is. I'm sorry but he's just so irritating. The Saiyuuki version had a line of trust, honour and friendship. The Monkey version...the demon said she'd return...*sighs*
(Oh quick snapshot from the "You Win Some, You Lose Some" episode. The word "binding" probably didn't occur to them.)
The start to this season has a lot more plot holes, bizzare devices and several amounts of the word "shit" in dialogue but makes up for it with the 2003 dubbing and Yu-Lung.
It should be noted that the ending theme is swapped out for another "Holy and Bright - Godiego" but unfortunately it's not as good as the previous one.
Saiyuuki (Episodes 6-7)
FINALLY!!! An episode that breaks this accursed formula! If you've only read this one, the problem I have with Saiyuuki is it's carbon copy formula. You'll be happy to know that in one episode the show breaks it. Not totally but it had me satisfied enough.
Try reading this with a straight face. Episode 6 deals with a chicken demon trying to for fill a promise to a princess who knows nothing about such thing. Now they keep the identity of the demon under wraps but early on you already know who it is...no one female. He's actually asked to join the pilgrimage which after reasoning with him he accepts. And this is where I thought "hmm, a new character. This might be interesting. Might actually be exciting-"
And then he gets killed by the princesses's army!
"Well never fucking mind then."
And while I'm not happy with that last minute plot point, I can understand why they couldn't add another member. Its been a few episodes since I've seen a cloud flying scene so the thought occurs that the budget got smaller at some point.
Say what you like but I actually like the costume for the chicken demon. Yeah, it's hilarious, one you can't take seriously but thats the idea. Chicken in form, chicken in nature, chicken in KFC which I could go for right about now-
...Sorry, lost my train of thought.
After episode 6 I went into episode 7 thinking they might be doing something different.
Nope, formula plot away. And thus ends my bitching about it.
It does do a few things different. The plot centers around a ghost who was imprisoned by a demon pretending to be her. A joke that happens down the road is this ghost possessing Goku and trying to prove to her family that it's her. Including Goku in drag. But I'm sorry, Goku's speech confronting the demon is the most stupidest thing I've heard. Maybe this is just a language barrier. Maybe it'll have more impact if this is taken in as Japanese and never translated. But since I'm not fluent in Japanese, what's up on screen is what's up on screen and what's up on screen is a collection of generic, pointless monologues.
I do enjoy the humour in this show. The timing, the punchlines, etc. In this, the jokes are always original and different. The humour in Monkey has aged horribly and usually ends up in typical punchlines of "we'll cook the pig" or something about Yu-Lung. Saiyuuki, different story. Goku and Hakkai accidentally break a multi-arm statue and before they're about to fix it, Gojou makes his way there and they quickly hides, replacing these arms. Gojou offers steaming hot yams to the statue and places two in its hands, when they're actually Goku and Hakkai's hands. Trying to get them to talk he makes the hands squeeze the yams to which they scream and leap from the statue. The humour is probably the only thing that's keeping me involved with the show.
The Edge: Monkey
(I will never get tired of this picture.)
While offering a bit more variety to the show, sadly Saiyuuki is not enough to satisfy me at this stage. Meanwhile the thing that keeps me in Monkey are these 2003 dubs. I find them rather fascinating and add a flavour that I've not experienced with the show. My fear is though that these weapon transformations are going to take me out of this mystic Chinese era that the show states it's in.
And finally after a month this additions out. Only two more of these posts and I may just find the path to enlightenment. Or the sudden realisation that I spent more time inside watching TV than outside trying this new thing called "socialising".
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